Gunplay is one of the most enigmatic rappers in hip-hop, one of those guys who seems totally unpredictable both musically and socially. But that, combined with his moments of brilliance on tracks like "Bible On The Dash" and Kendrick Lamar's "Cartoon And Cereal," is what makes him so enticing. The MMG affiliate cut his teeth in the hip-hop trio Triple C's alongside Torch and Young Breed, and made his first individual appearance on Rick Ross’ third studio album Deeper Than Rap in 2009. That kicked off a nice run of records like “Rollin'” featuring Waka Flocka Flame, "Power Circle" with MMG and his attention-grabbing spot on “Cartoon And Cereal.” Once that hit, Def Jam came calling with a solo deal, and the scary-looking goon that was always by Rick Ross’ side became a rapper to watch out for in his own right.

Then trouble hit, and it seemed like the Carol City, Fla. native couldn’t keep himself away from negative headlines. First, he was involved in a fistfight with members of 50 Cent’s crew backstage at the 2012 BET Hip-Hop Awards. Then a video allegedly showing ‘Play robbing an accountant of his jewelry and money at gunpoint emerged, leading to charges of armed robbery; later, a second charge of aggravated assault with a firearm was tacked on, which could have potentially put him in jail for life. After he posted $150,000 bail he was placed on house arrest, putting his recording career on the back burner indefinitely.

But during that time when he couldn't leave his home, his life changed. He gave up drugs, became more focused on his craft, started to hone his skills, beat his court case and was released from house arrest in January 2013. His long-awaited Def Jam debut, with the original cocaine-obsessed title, Medellin, was renamed Living Legend, and he re-focused on delivering on the promise that had led to his solo deal in the first place. "I feel [Living Legend's] overdue, so I’m ready to just get it out," Gunplay told XXL in a recent interview at the XXL offices in New York. "I’m ready for the world to finally hear my music. I feel like my music tells who Gunplay is. Now I feel like Gunplay is ready for the world. Now I want to give the world my music."

Nearly two years after it was first announced, Living Legend is, finally, promised for a 2014 release. XXL spoke to 'Play to get the most up-to-date facts on what we can expect from the MMG soldier. —Emmanuel C.M.


The Facts

Living Legend will be Gunplay’s major label solo debut album since signing his Def Jam deal in 2012, and his first project since his 8th mixtape, Acquitted, dropped last June. Originally a member of Triple C's—which consisted of himself, Torch and Young Breed—he became one of the first members to sign to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group in 2009. 'Play dropped his first solo mixtape Sniffahill (The First Gram) in 2008 and went on to drop 7 more in the next five years, in addition to contributing verses to all three MMG compilation albums, as well as making appearances on A$AP Rocky's Long.Live.A$AP, Lil Wayne's I Am Not A Human Being II and Travi$ Scott's Owl Pharoah.

Gunplay’s debut album has been in works since January 2013 but was stalled after he was arrested for second-degree aggravated assault with a firearm and armed robbery; facing a potential life sentence after video allegedly caught him pulling out a gun, taking jewelry and money from an accountant. The original title of the album was Medellin until Gunplay changed the name of his debut in May 2013 to Living Legend. The name change represented what Gunplay’s mindset was—that he’s a living legend—and also was a marked change from the cocaine-fueled original titles. As a Maybach album, Ross is likely to act as the executive producer as well.


The Sound

Throughout Gunplay’s mixtape run, the obvious theme has been hard-hitting, bass-pounding street records that teeter on the edge between fight music and street narratives. However, as the MMG rapper’s popularity has grown over the years, so has his fan base, which is more diverse than ever. You can expect to hear a wide variety of sounds and styles on Living Legend, but a fair number of club and street bangers as well.

“It’s going to be something for the world, not just for the hood," Gunplay says. "I’m already a hood nigga—I got hood tracks on there—but I want take it to that next level. I got an EDM track on there, I got some tracks on there for the girls. But for the most part I just experimented with it. Usually people stick to the script on their first album. I did whatever the fuck I felt. I’m not trying to sit there and over-rap your ears. I don’t really rap-rap-rap like that. I let you know experiences what I’ve been through, where I’m going and that’s it."


The Lyrics

Gunplay has grown tremendously as a rapper since he first came out. He’s no lyrical monster, but he's got more in his bag of tricks than people might expect, and one thing he can do so well is articulate pain; he's been able to illustrate his life very vividly with hard-hitting words that evoke emotion without being soft. Just look at his biggest song to date, “Bible On The Dash.” The potential is undoubtedly there because the man has simply been through so much. He elaborates that the album will contain deep, personal records on a plethora of subjects like cults, drugs, his rap sheet and religion.

“I’ve been through more than most rappers," he says. "I’ve paid more dues than most rappers. I’ve been through more than most niggas who’s out here on the street. I think the title fits me perfect. I elaborate on that a few times on the album to let y’all know why I am a Living Legend. Other than that I still wanted to—not cater to the masses—but give something the masses something they could relate to. Where I’m not stepping out of character, I’m not being somebody I’m not. When you hear the album you’ll understand what I’m coming from.”


The Features

Last year before Gunplay changed his album title from Medellin to Living Legend he spoke on the features for the album. Big Sean, Yo Gotti were two artists he spoke will be on the album along with Pharrell who he said produced a song called “Steel Drums.” Fast forward to 2014 and it's likely that some of his MMG cohorts will be riding with him on the album, and he let loose a couple names who are confirmed so far.

“So far the ones that I can let y’all know about is Young Dro, Lil Wayne, Ross, August Alsina, Curren$y," he says, "but I got a few other ones that’s pretty dope that I want to keep under wraps until I get that actual release date.”

gunplay rick ross

The Singles

Gunplay first official single off of Living Legend is “Aight” featuring MMG’s head honcho Rick Ross. Before that, Gunplay dropped released a string of street cuts after his mixtape Acquitted such as “187 Freestyle,” “Krazy,” “Numbers On The Boards (Freestyle)” “Open Letter,” Heaven Or Hell (Remix),” Upper Echelon (Freestyle)” and “Kush.” However, ‘Play has one single that he holds in high regard that will be his intro to the album.

“'Tell'em Daddy' is probably going to be the first record on there," he says. "It’s basically me telling you who Gunplay is. I wrote the whole record in 30 minutes, like I just couldn’t stop writing until, 'That’s three verses already?' It’s just letting you know who Gunplay is. That’s going to be the intro of the album.

"I’m only going to give y’all 12 [songs] and a few skits. I’m going to save the rest for the next one or the mixtape. I just want to get in, rob you and get out."


The Release Date

Living Legend was originally set to drop in Spring 2013 but has since been pushed again and again due to his many legal issues, with August 2014 the latest rumored date. “It’s going to be in August," Gunplay says, though he doesn't have an official date. "Definitely in August, so I’m just waiting. It’s a lot of politics behind the scenes we have to iron out."


Previously: Gunplay Has Lil Wayne And August Alsina On His Upcoming Album
Gunplay Featuring Rick Ross “Aiight”
12 Rappers With Perfect Stage Names